My grandmother Rosa was against people’s eagerness to give advice. She used to say: “People don’t share anything as generously as stupidity. I sit, I think, I guess, I don’t touch anyone.” she liked to say.

Maria Ivanovna, a Ukrainian neighbour, comes up to me and asks: “Rosalia Osipovna, how do you feel, how are you?” I do not have time to answer as she gives me advice. What could be easier? Go your own way? No, on the way I receive advice. What kind of advice is it? She advises me how to improve my life, decorate my appearance, where to buy cheaper products. I don’t complain about anything, although, of course, everything is bad. The main thing is not to make it worse. Let things stay as bad as they are. Grandma was an ironic woman, but the irony was that she herself liked to give advice, make remarks, and meddle in the affairs of her neighbours.

Grandmother Rosa always had an opinion that was the opposite of her interlocutor’s. She liked to argue with other people and criticise them. She was a gloomy person, but sometimes she could tell a joke. Her criticisms and jokes often shocked people. Because of her sharp tongue and difficult character, grandmother often found herself in very difficult situations. One day she found herself in an extremely dangerous situation: she was about to be killed. She was a very perceptive person, very sensitive to the weaknesses of her interlocutors. In this story, Grandma’s joke was a bloody insult, and the argument that followed could have led to bloodshed, but it ended quite unexpectedly with a peace proposal.

This story happened because we lived in Kiev near the large Orthodox St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, and in our neighbourhood all the Christian holidays were felt with particular force. St. Vladimir’s Cathedral was established in honour of Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich, the Baptist of ancient Russia, which was called Kievan Rus. The monument to the Baptist stands on Vladimirskaya hill over the Dnieper River.  The monument stands over the waters of the Dnieper River, into which St. Vladimir drove the residents of Kiev and forcibly baptised them in 988. Christianity took possession of the ancient people of Kiev, but not everything was clear and smooth with the identity of the one to whom the Christians of Kiev prayed.

As I mentioned before, Grandma Rosa had a habit of getting into arguments. She had endured so much suffering in her life that she was not afraid of anyone. She argued fiercely and selflessly at every convenient and inconvenient opportunity. Once, on Easter eve, she argued with her orthodox neighbours. Her thesis was as follows: “Why are you so worried? Did some Jews crucify a Jew Christ? You don’t like Jews. Why do you care so much about Jewish squabbles?”  Neighbour Maria Ivanovna, deeply angered by her grandmother’s assertion that Christ was a Jew, responded: “Rosalia Osipovna, you slander our suffering God. He is certainly not a Jew. Stop blaspheming!” My grandmother insisted on the Jewish origin of Jesus. Maria Ivanovna, Ivan Alexeyevich, and other Orthodox neighbours were indignant and began to threaten Grandma. Ivan Alexeyevich uttered: “I am going to the feast at the Vladimirskiy Cathedral, and I will find out everything from our illustrious father, Priest Sergei. If it turns out that Jesus is not Jewish, you, Rosalia Osipovna, will not live!”

The neighbours went to the feast in the Cathedral of St. Vladimir, the Baptist of Russia. They returned quietly and peacefully. Father Sergei apparently confirmed the grandmother’s statement about the Jewish origin of Jesus Christ. When the festively dressed neighbours went home to celebrate Easter, Maria Ivanovna and Ivan Alekseevich approached the grandmother and said to her quietly, affectionately, respectfully: “Rosalia Osipovna, we know that you also have the Easter holiday (they meant Passover) and that on it you Jews bake matza with the blood of Christians.  We respect you very much and want to help. Please give us the address of the synagogue where we can donate blood for your celebration”.

Article by Author/s
Alex Gordon
Alex Gordon is a native of Kiev (USSR) and graduate of the Kiev State University and Haifa Technion (Doctor of Science, 1984). He immigrated to Israel in 1979. He is a Full Professor (Emeritus) of Physics in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Haifa and at Oranim, the Academic College of Education. He is the author of 8 books and about 500 articles in paper and online and was published in 59 journals in 12 countries in Russian, Hebrew, English and German. Literary publications in English: "Jewish Literary Journal (USA), Jewish Fiction (Canada), Mosaic (USA) and Arc (Israel).

1 Comment

  1. A fascinating story- my husband and I are in Israel now- staying in an apartment we bought sight unseen during Covid.

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